How To Make Can't-F*ck-It-Up Fried Chicken

Everyone loves a hot, crispy piece of fried chicken. It's the perfect comfort food, and goes great with just about any side (and beer). Making it, however, can be a stressful guessing game. Thankfully, our friends at ChefSteps wrote in this week with a fried chicken recipe that's almost impossible to mess up.

So just what exactly makes this technique foolproof? ChefSteps cooks the chicken pieces sous vide, ensuring that they will emerge exactly as wanted. The meat comes out juicy with great texture, and is never under- or overcooked. All that's left to do is to coat the pieces with buttermilk, flour and whatever spices you're in the mood for before giving them a quick fry in oil. Voilà! A fried chicken feast! Check out the instructional video and full recipe below.

Servings: 8 pieces


1 whole chicken

2½ tablespoons salt

Frying oil (we like canola), as needed

Black pepper, freshly ground, as needed

1 lb, 10½ ounces pastry flour (or all-purpose)

1 ounce paprika (optional)

¾ ounce onion powder (optional)

1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

1 lb, 1½ ounces buttermilk

Directions:To cook the chicken:

  • Heat water to 155 degrees F.
  • Divide the chicken into pieces. You'll want to end up with skin-on thighs, drumsticks and two whole, boneless breasts.
  • Season the pieces all over with salt. A good starting point is about 1 percent salt to the weight of the pieces.
  • Place the pieces into sous vide bags, dark meat with dark meat and breasts with breasts. Transfer breasts to the fridge to chill (the dark meat is going to be cooked longer).
  • Cook dark meat in water for at least two hours. Add breasts and cook all pieces for an additional hour.
  • Heat at least 3 inches of frying oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat until the oil reaches about 400 degrees F.
  • To make the breading:

  • Remove cooked chicken pieces from the water and pat dry. Cut breasts in half, lengthwise. Place chicken pieces on a metal rack.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Add buttermilk to a second bowl.
  • Prefer your chicken crunchy or crispy? If you fall in the first camp, dredge pieces in flour, then buttermilk, then flour again. For crispier chicken, just dunk the pieces in the buttermilk, move them to the bowl with the dry ingredients, then fry. If you're not sure which you prefer, try both!
  • To fry the chicken:

  • Working in batches, fry the chicken pieces in the oil until they've got a gorgeous golden crust, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the finished pieces to the wire rack in the oven to keep warm.
  • ChefSteps comprises a team of award-winning chefs, filmmakers, scientists, designers and engineers focused on revolutionizing the way people cook by inspiring creativity and encouraging expertise in the kitchen. The site is currently offering free online classes called Cooking Sous Vide: Getting Started and Burgers, as well as a $10 class called Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics and a $14 class called Coffee.